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Divine Indetermination: Revenge “Confession” Review

By on October 14, 2013
Nolan Ross and Emily Thorne

(ABC/Richard Cartwright) GABRIEL MANN, EMILY VANCAMP

‘Confession’ was deceptively uneventful in comparison to the outlandish reveals we’ve become accustomed to on Revenge. However, the micro fractures initiated here are harbingers for the devastation to follow as we head to the altar and well beyond, beginning with Emily’s first murder. And that’s a doozy.

That’s right: her first murder. Did you catch that? This event, more than any other, should open Emily’s eyes to the self-destructive path she’s chosen. The question she must ask herself is where will that path lead and what will it cost her? ‘Confessions’ makes a clear statement that this show could go anywhere from here.

While the majority of Revenge episodes feature outrageous preparations and gala events involving colossal red sharpie cross-off take-downs, ‘Confession’ was a study in subtext.

Yes, there was an elite social gathering—Nolan’s housewarming pool party involving 102 of the Hamptons’ haughtiest—however, it was more opportunistic backdrop than main event, despite the surprise (?) arrival of Aiden followed by Emily’s announcement to the masses that the Graysons were bankrupt. Though, surely that was no surprise to anyone since Grayson Global exploded and Conrad has lost his gubernatorial seat?

Instead of all the usual hoopla, hints and warnings of future consequences were woven in a series of intimate two or three person scenes where revelations abounded; some as confession, others only under the guise of it. Victoria’s confession to Daniel about Emily’s cheating with Aiden; Daniel’s confession to Emily about shooting Aiden; Conrad’s confession to Emily about his fear of dying alone and a monster in Charlotte’s eyes; Patrick’s confession to Nolan that he’s Victoria’s son; Aiden’s confession to Victoria that he was wrong about Emily having her money; Emily’s confession to Daniel that she paid for Nolan’s house; Emily’s confession to Father Paul that she is the author of his expulsion from the Hamptons; Father Paul’s confession to Emily that he will confess his involvement in the David Clarke scandal. Did I miss any? Oh, and Aiden’s confession to us that he is, indeed, part of Emily’s scheme.

So, all these skeletons are popping out of closets and bones are flying all over the place scratching people in the face and knocking on confessionals. In addition, Patrick’s true colors are beginning to bleed through. We’ve yet to get a glimpse of his backstory, but it is clear he is no patsy. We saw in “Sin” that he’s no stranger to quick-witted sarcasm and he can hold his own against Emily. In ‘Confessions’, he displays a fair amount of snark toward both Emily and Nolan. Emily hates it; Nolan is intrigued by it. Keep your eye on this guy; it looks like he has exactly what it takes to stir up the Revenge pot. Of note is the stark contrast between Patrick’s straight-forwardness and Emily’s duplicity. Patrick refuses to pretend, while Emily is the quintessential  paper doll of pretension. Hm. Interesting. An aside, it appears that Patrick may be romantically interested in Nolan. Not a judgement, just a thought. Though being in close proximity to Emily’s right hand man would be a clever strategy for Victoria’s Revengenda.

(ABC/Richard Cartwright) MADELEINE STOWE, JOSH BOWMAN

(ABC/Richard Cartwright)
MADELEINE STOWE, JOSH BOWMAN

Two very strong subtexts emerge as harbingers for what is to come. First, Conrad’s comment to Emily that the devouring of a person by disease is as hard to watch as it is to suffer. Conrad was speaking of watching his grandfather struggle and die of Huntington’s. Loud and clear was the message that Emily’s disease, her relentless pursuit of vengeance—whose target she’s grown unclear of (Conrad or Victoria, confession or retribution)—is an illness that will torture Emily’s loved ones as well as herself. She must ask herself, is she willing to put her loved ones through that?

And finally, the subtext of Father Paul as symbol of that which is pure and decent, moral. He’s also someone interested in other people’s redemption. Remind you of anyone? Yes, Nolan Ross. Nolan is the strong voice of reason for Emily. He’s steadfast and forthright in his convictions. Both men do Emily’s bidding, though Nolan’s is much more willingly. But here’s the rub and the warning: the rub is that they both have suffered by their complicity with Emily. Nolan has been nearly killed and imprisoned; Father Paul has been blackmailed and eventually killed (?) in a car crash.

The blatant warning comes in the form of Father Paul’s murder. How could it be murder, and how by Emily’s hand? Well, consider that Emily has been spiking Conrad’s Kool-Aid with something nasty, and switching out his medications with god knows what, right? Then Conrad gets behind the wheel of his Ferrari Testarossa, a machine touted as accelerating from zero to sixty mph in 5.2 seconds, then up to 100 mph in the next 11.4 seconds, and smashes into a light post, killing his passenger, Father Paul Whitley. Father Whitley, by the way, was the one person who brought Emily emotionally to her knees on more than one occasion and could have been the key to her redemption. Now he’s gone. So, who is at fault here? Is Father Paul’s death a foreshadowing of the demise of Emily’s other moral compass, Nolan Ross? Perhaps it was simply a warning, but it’s one Emily better heed before it is too late.

Next Sunday, October 20th  in Revenge’s “Mercy”, Emily’s biggest take down yet is set to ‘crash and burn,’ leaving Ems to rely on help from an unlikely source as she investigates what went wrong. Meanwhile, according to the report, to protect her own future, Victoria makes a bold move to secure her independence.

Catch “Mercy” Sunday October 20 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET), on ABC.